If you want to save money on your next trip while still staying fully connected (even in spots without Wi-Fi), a travel eSIM is the way to go.
While travel eSIMs are already second nature for many travelers, they’re a brand-new concept to others.
With Apple’s recent announcement that most future iPhones (including the new iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max) won’t have SIM card trays, some travelers are already mourning the loss of physical SIM cards.
No SIM cards? What’s the issue?
If your phone doesn’t have the ability to accept a SIM card, it means you will no longer be able to do SIM card swapping when you travel.
SIM card swapping is when you remove the physical SIM card inside your phone and swap it with a different SIM card. This was an old hack used by many travelers so they could essentially trick their phones into thinking they were “local” devices, and get them connected to local networks.
The trouble with SIM card swapping, however, was that you might accidentally damage or lose your real SIM card once you removed it from your device. You also didn’t have access to your regular phone number for calling and texting, since the card that stored your phone number had disappeared from your device.
What does this mean for travelers?
Although there were serious issues with SIM card swapping, some travelers swore by this once-effective system and are disappointed they will no longer be able to use it.
So what’s a savvy traveler to do, once they no longer have the ability to mess with physical SIM cards? Well, there’s already an excellent solution in place, and the answer is right at their fingertips …
They can use a travel eSIM instead!
What is a travel eSIM?
A travel eSIM is a way to instantly connect to networks in another country, using technology that’s already built into your device.
Since “eSIM” stands for “embedded SIM,” an eSIM is the digital equivalent of popping in a new physical SIM card — without needing to mess with your device.
It works like a physical SIM card, except it provides additional flexibility and security.
How much does a travel eSIM cost?
The travel eSIM itself is actually “free,” if you can believe that. (Nothing’s free these days, right?)
What you’re paying for is the data itself.
For example, if you purchase a 1GB eSIM for Spain that’s going to be valid for seven days and it costs $4.50, what you’re “buying” is access to that network to use 1GB of their mobile data. The travel eSIM is just the means of accessing that data.
Will this work on my phone?
As long as you have an eSIM-compatible device, you can shop for eSIM data packages online and add them to your device whenever you need data for a specific country or region.
Your newly-purchased travel eSIM will allow you to connect to a local network for internet data, whether you really are a local citizen or you’re just visiting there on vacation.
If you’re not sure if your device is equipped to accept eSIM data packages, we recommend reviewing our list of devices that support eSIM before you actually go ahead and purchase a travel eSIM. Otherwise, you might be accidentally buy something that won’t work on your phone or tablet.
How does a travel eSIM save money?
Buckle up, friends, because now we’re going to dive into the cold hard (cash) facts.
Here are five ways a travel eSIM will save you money …
1. A travel eSIM can prevent roaming charges
This is, by far, the biggest way you’ll save money!
When you’re sticking close to home, you likely have a regular cell/data plan for your phone that keeps you connected for a monthly rate. You use your phone normally, you have data whenever you need it (providing you’re within your data limit), and you don’t really have to think twice about it.
But then … you travel somewhere!
When you leave your normal coverage area, suddenly using your phone isn’t as simple. Your phone might tell you it’s suddenly “roaming.” Since it can’t connect to its regular network, it’s doing a bit of treasure hunting to find a new local network … and yes, this can get super expensive!
If you let your phone go wild and roam, it’s going to find another network for you. But it’s going to be exhausted (in a matter of speaking) from all that extra work, plus the emotional stress of keeping you hooked onto a totally different faraway network, so you’re going to see steep roaming charges on your next mobile bill.
Instead of letting your phone “roam” to find high-priced data, you can easily prevent your phone from roaming and use a travel eSIM data for prepaid data.
2. A travel eSIM is usually cheaper than a travel SIM card
So in order to get around roaming charges, frequent travelers liked to engage in something called “SIM card swapping.”
This is where you remove your phone’s real SIM card and insert a travel SIM card purchased in a new country. You’re basically tricking your phone into thinking it’s a local phone in order to connect to a local network.
However … there were a lot of issues with SIM card swapping.
* By removing your primary SIM card, you were also removing all access to your real phone number so you couldn’t call or text until it was put back in (whereas with an eSIM, you always have access to your phone number)
* Taking out your real SIM card meant it was at risk of being damaged, lost, or stolen (and your phone number would be gone, too)
* Scammers would rip off tourists by selling fraudulent SIM cards that didn’t work (and by the time the customer realized, they’d be stuck with a useless chunk of plastic)
* Even if the SIM card wasn’t a fake, it still didn’t always work properly (either because the customer purchased the wrong one, or because the quality was poor) and people wasted a lot of money
3. It’s also cheaper than a carrier travel data plan
If you’re planning a trip and ask your cell phone carrier about the costs associated with using your phone internationally, they will definitely have a solution for you.
But their solution … is not going to be cheap.
A mobile carrier will usually charge you a steep daily rate for the *privilege* of using your regular phone plan (that you already pay for) in another country.
Do not — we repeat, do NOT — agree to a carrier travel plan unless you’ve asked a lot of questions and understand exactly how much you will be charged, as many people have been shocked by what ends up on their next monthly bill.
4. A travel eSIM is 100% prepaid (with no surprises)
Some carrier travel data plans are quite loosey-goosey, which means you still might end up with unpleasant surprises on your next bill.
Be sure to read the fine print if you choose a carrier plan, because it might say something like “… if you reach your data limit, we’ll quietly give you more data but you’re going to pay a zillion dollars on your next bill, oopsie.”
As for us? We prefer knowing exactly what we’re going to pay.
That’s why our travel eSIM packages are 100% prepaid. If we say it’s five bucks, it’s five bucks. We’ll never automatically renew anything, or charge your card multiple times, or top up your data if we see it running low.
We believe customers should have complete control over their data, and that’s the way we like it.
5. A travel eSIM is flexible
Flexibility is important when it comes to travel data, because sometimes you don’t know how much you’re going to need until you’re actually on your vacation.
If the Wi-Fi at the hotel is excellent and you’re hanging around the pool a lot, you probably won’t need much data. But if you’re out adventuring every day, you could burn through data very quickly.
Here’s a quick comparison of how to get more data in different scenarios:
A CARRIER DATA PLAN: You probably won’t even realize you’ve run out of data, because your carrier will just keep it flowing … and charge you a lot of money for it on your next bill.
A TRAVEL SIM CARD: Once you’ve used up all the data on your temporary SIM card, you’re done. If you need more data suddenly, that dead-as-a-doornail SIM card is useless. You’d have to hunt down another SIM card kiosk and buy a new card.
A TRAVEL eSIM: Need more data? Sure! Use your eSIM app to top up your travel eSIM with another travel data package, which may be as cheap as $4.50 for another week of data. It will start working immediately.
This makes it pretty clear a travel eSIM is the most flexible on-the-go option when it comes to keeping your phone running on data while you’re traveling.
What’s easier, a travel eSIM or travel SIM card?
We’re obviously pro-eSIM here at aloSIM. 😉 It’s much easier not to mess with your phone’s physical structure by removing and adding SIM cards, and we like the convenience of adding data anytime using an app (without having to visit a physical store or kiosk to purchase anything).
Recap: Why you should use a travel eSIM
* You can use your phone in 120+ countries
* You’ll avoid roaming charges entirely
* You’ll pay less than you would with a carrier travel plan
* It’s prepaid, so you’ll know exactly what you’re spending
* You won’t have to mess with SIM cards
* You’ll have full access to your regular phone number
* If you need more data, you can get it in seconds